29 September 2001
Skip past the intro to the concert
Well. Where do I begin?
I found out Tool was coming here because I had been feverishly checking their website for tour updates for the past few months. The Lateralus tour was in full swing at this time, and I had been hoping against hope that this wouldn't be one of those tours (like all of NIN's) that skip us cos they don't like amphitheater-type venues. Well, I made my discovery on August 21 at about 2:00 am. I was ecstatic, needless to say. After that, I started checking my email every 12 hours to make sure that I hadn't missed the internet presale. I finally got the email for the presale, and subsequently my tickets. Fourth row, seats 1 and 2 in the front center (gold circle) section. They were $35 each, and service charges made the total $93. The pissedoffishness at Ticketmaster soon subsided into glee at the fact that these were in fact fourth row tickets to Tool.
The month that followed was torture. Sometimes a week or two would go by and I would only think about the concert once or twice, but the last two weeks before the concert were sooo drawn-out. But finally the day of the concert came. It started at 7:30, and the amphitheater was half an hour away. We left at about 6:20, and got there at almost exactly 7. It was cold. I had expected this somewhat, and was wearing three layers of clothes. The wind still sucked, I just thought I would note that. But anyway, we proceeded to the entrance. People were getting searched; that didn't surprise me too much. Amphitheater security in general isn't too bad, but I figured Tool would insist. A Perfect Circle was one of the only Norva shows I got searched at.
We walked the loooong way around to our seats, passing the shirt booth on the way. I had originally planned to buy a shirt, but the $30 minimum price made me think again. The $30 shirts didn't even look all that nice; they were monochromatic and not that great looking. If you wanted color, the price was $35. And if you wanted anything with long sleeves, you could expect to pay $50-$60. We figured we'd look for them at Fantasy in a few weeks, and they'd probably be half price...then proceeded to our seats.
I was surprised at how good the seats were. Fourth row aisle seats don't have three rows in front of them. Well, they do have three rows, but there is only one row of seats in front of it. The other two fan in after about the sixth seats. The angle was great, too; we could still see everything on the stage perfectly. They were kind of like second row seats. It was already getting cold by this time, so I put my hood up and waited for Fantômas to come on.
I didn't know the guys doing the sound check on Fantômas's stuff were actually the band, but by now I wasn't surprised. I've seen that a few times before with opening bands. I found out after the concert that the singer from Fantômas is the guy from Faith No More. I recognized Buzz from the Melvins straight off. Anyway, the lights dimmed and they started playing an accordion or flute or something...it sounded like an Italian opera or something sounding from The Godfather. I thought it was nice. Then the singer started making all these strange and stupid noises. It was even worse than the bands that shriek. He was actually giving me a headache, cos his pitch was going so high it sounded like feedback. They played for quite a while. Way too long, in any case. I wished they had a different singer, cos I probably could have enjoyed them with a different one. I liked the guitarist, and the rest of the band was pretty cool too. Just that guy...he ruined it for me. Fantômas is, at this point in time, the worst opening band I have ever seen. They went off, and I was kind of relieved cos my ears were suffering. I didn't even bother to show respect by taking my hood off while they were playing.
After they went off, I fled to the restroom. There were a lot of people in line, but that turned out to work. I had been standing there outside for a couple of minutes waiting, and a guy in a Staind shirt came up to me from the merchandise booth nearby. His problem: he had purchased a large shirt, only to find out that they were pre-shrunk and it was too small for him. The people at the booth wouldn't buy it back. He wanted a new shirt. He told me he'd sell it to me for $20. I jumped on the deal, both because it was the shirt I liked...and it was $15 cheaper. I added it as my fourth layer, under my pullover, once I got into the bathroom, and returned to my seat. A lot of the seats around us had been kind up empty while Fantômas was on, but they were steadily filling up now. The anticipation was growing. Ken and I noticed the sheet hanging over the back of the stage, and a guy standing there holding it to keep the wind from blowing it around. We wondered at what it was, and joked about how it would be funny if the guy had to stand there and hold it all night. But, as the lights dimmed, it became apparent that that would not be happening. The curtain rose, revealing two huge projection screens, and one smaller one. The band came out, Danny to his drum kit on the right of the stage, Justin on bass in front of him, Adam on guitar at the right of the stage, and Maynard in the back, in front of the smallest screen. Needless to say, the crowd went wild.
Setlist: The Grudge, (-)Ions, Stinkfist (extended), Forty-six & 2, Prison Sex, Pushit (album version), Schism, Disposition, Reflection (extended).
After Intermission: Parabol/Parabola, Ænema, Lateralus.
My god, the beginning of a perfect night. Tool opened with The Grudge. Only for a moment did I think, "Man, that's original to open with a first track." It's kind of like burning a CD and having the first track being the first track of a real CD, if you know what I mean. But they played well enough; I'll just say flawlessly cos I don't think there's any way to overestimate the caliber of their performance. It was great, it even had the 30-second scream from the album.
The movie screens were awesome. I've never seen anything like that at a concert. They were playing videos the entire time. On the songs with videos, they would play bits and pieces of the video up on the screen. I also saw some stuff from those five-second Lateralus commercials they played on MTV right before the Schism video premiered; and some of the graphics from their web site as well. From the angle we were at, Maynard would often align exactly with the pictures of the man on the screen. It looked even cooler when the screens had spinning designs, cos it made him stand out more. Anyway, let me get to the real concert.
I fretted when Ions came on. I'd heard that they were playing it live this tour, and I had hoped they wouldn't play it here. It's too long and static, and the last thing I wanted was six minutes of the concert sucked away by electronic noises. It ended up being not too long, though. A minute, maybe two...long enough to switch guitars I guess. The video was interesting, but not much more than I would have expected from an Ions video. Bolts of electricity. It did look neat, though.
I was glad when they played Stinkfist. It was one of the songs I really wanted to hear (along with a few unrequited ones, like Third Eye and Undertow). The extension was awesome, and I think it really threw the crowd off. Everyone was trying to sing along, and at the "I'll keep digging" they instead broke into an instrumental. It was funny cos you could hear the crowd sing "I'll keep" and then break off. The coolest part of the extension was at the end, when Danny hit the drums that open the song on the album. Then they launched back into it.
The only thing Maynard said prior to the encore was before Forty-six & 2 (or maybe Prison Sex, but it was definitely one or the other). He said "good evening." I think he was gonna say more, but then some asshole shined one of those laser pointers in his eye. He turned around in what looked like disgust, and they went into the song. I knew it was gonna happen, and I had been discussing it with Ken when we saw the laser dots moving around while no one was talking. He's gonna get pissed, we both told each other. We were right. I don't know whether or not it was because of that guy, but Maynard didn't talk again until after the intermission.
It was Prison Sex that evoked the first of my two "oh, shit!" occurrences. I didn't know they were going to play it, obviously, and it was around the top of the (loooong) list of songs I wanted to hear. Before the music started, I saw the string/cord looking things from the beginning of the video, and I knew that I would hear it. Around the "I have found some kind of temporary sanity in this" break, Maynard started singing something else. Between the kind of echo effect that was going on and the crowd, I couldn't hear any of what he was saying, but it kind of followed the tune of the "so good to see you once again" sequence in Third Eye. I'm almost completely sure that it was something else, though.
The second "oh shit" followed with the next song, Pushit. I heard the opening, and the phrase escaped. Not only because Pushit is an awesome song and I wanted to hear it live, but because it was the Ænima version rather than the slow one, my favorite. They were totally on with everything. I got the familiar emotion buildup once the song picked up, only amplified five or ten times because it was live. The catharsis happened, with a little bit of wind-down time while people switched guitars for Schism.
Someone brought Maynard a guitar. This might have surprised me, had I not been hearing about it for the past month from others who had seen them live. What did surprise me (maybe not surprise...amuse) was the fact that the guitar had no head. We were puzzled by it, but since then have seen a guitar like it in Mars. It just looked odd, and we did find it funny. I was surprised at the crowd's reaction to Schism. More applause than anything that night, including Forty-six & 2, which I thought would be the most popular one.
Disposition is beautiful live. So peaceful. I just sat down and listened, and it was great.
Even without Danny's teasing drum bits at the end of Disposition, I knew Reflection would follow. It just disappointed me that they didn't go ahead and enter the intermission with Triad, cos I would have liked to see that live. Reflection was nice, it surprised me how well Maynard pulled off the vocal effects they used on the CD. The crowd wasn't as into it, I guess that didn't shock me too much. I think they did a good job. Adam sat there on stage after everyone else had stopped and played the closing guitar riff for five or six minutes. Then they went to intermission.
The intermission was provided by Osseus Labyrinth, the two people from the Schism video. Someone was telling me before that they thought OL was two guys, but they weren't sure. Man, seeing them erased any doubts. They came in to center stage wearing skintight outfits, suspended by their ankles from the top of the stage. They climbed up to right above the movie screens, hand over hand. When they got there, it was evident that there was only one man among them, because the skintight suit provided quite a nice outline of his "package." They were really moving around up there; I was impressed. Then, one of my contacts came out. I was sitting down, and sort of felt it blinking out, so I caught it in my hand. I wanted to watch the intermission, but I was more worried about missing Tool, so I ran (which mostly turned into walking cos of the security guards making me stop) to the bathroom and put it back in. I had tried putting it back in one time at my seat, but the wind encouraged me to get alee...cos I figured a 45 minute drive with one contact would suck.
I was running back to my seat when Tool came back out, playing Parabol. OL were still hanging above the screens, rocking slowly to the music. I got back to my seat about a third of the way through Parabol, but I hadn't actually missed any of their playing. Once Parabol broke into Parabola, everything erupted: the band, the crowd, and Osseus Labyrinth. They started doing these crazy gyrating motions, in time with the music. The screen behind Maynard was a spiralling circle...really fast, and he really stood out against it. You could feel the adrenaline.
"Thank you," Maynard said after they finished. "Good night." He walked over to stand near Danny. Everyone stayed; there was about a minute of cheering and clapping. Then, the applause record that was, until that point, being held by Schism, was topped as Maynard began the heavy breathing that led into Ænema. The crowd participation and the general spirit raised considerably. The lyric change in this song was the only one I really noticed all night, although Ken was talking about some other one that I can't remember right now. Instead of "fuck all these gun-toting hip gangster wannabes" he said "bloodthirsty wannabes."
After it was over, he repeated himself. "Thank you, good night." But still we stayed. I figured it would be use of the rule of 3, and the third time he would mean it. So, I guessed that this would be the last song, Lateralus. Before they started, Maynard gave the familiar tour speech. "When you're reminiscing about this evening on the way home tonight, remember this energy that you're feeling...remember it weeks from now...and do something positive with it." What a great closer. It ends on such a high note...leaving us walking away in awe. At the end, the entire band got together at the center of the stage and did a group-hug kind of thing, then departed. Danny tossed out some drum sticks. God I wish I'd been in the pit, that would have been an awesome souvenir. I was sad that the concert was over, but I was on such a high.
After the Concert
First of all, I couldn't find my car, and it was really cold out. That kind of sucked. But those minutes of confusion were what led to the events that ended up following, so I guess in a cosmic sense it all worked out.
Well, the cool thing was, I did end up getting another cheap shirt. This guy was walking around from car to car selling tour shirts for $20. I don't know what was wrong with them, but the tags were ripped. I think they were misprints or something, cos they all said large, but I think they were really XL's. Either way, I didn't really care. $15 is a significant price difference, and I can always tuck the shirt in.
Then, this guy came up and tapped on my window. I rolled it down, and he started telling me about how he would be directing traffic. I'm reasonably sure he was drunk or high. I got sort of a confirmation when he asked if I had a beer he could "borrow." Later we drove past him and his friend, drinking beer - I guess they got someone to give them some - and listening to All Those Yesterdays.
The only other thing I really have to say about this was that the parking lot was absolute chaos. It was ridiculous. People were driving through parking spaces, trying to cut into lines to get out. At one point, there were cars on both sides of me waiting to try to cut me off. Before I even got out of the amphitheater parking lot, I saw two car accidents. Talk about a major low right after such a major high.
In closing, this concert marked what are probably the best two hours in my life. I felt like the rest of the week (and month, and probably year) could only go downhill from that night. All for a mere $40. I'll do it again in a heartbeat if they come back.